Remember those smooth, round boulders and pebbles we all had in our gardens a few years back, most of them no doubt prescribed by some transient landscape designer? There were a lot of agaves and dracaena dracos around at the same time, a bit of a "landscape fixture" as I recall, well-rooted in the late-90s.
Somehow the small collection that once adorned part of our front garden has slowly migrated around the property so that they are now drainage in the herb garden down the back, such is the waxing and waning of landscape preferences.
Over the years, somewhere between the trophy front garden (which, I might add, it is not) and the moveable feast that is our "kitchen" garden, these boulders and pebbles have been used in all manner of innovative child-friendly games (such as stone-throwing and homemade petanque) to more practical applications, such as a gate stop or a bookend.
So lowly are these pebbles now regarded as a landscape feature in our garden it was no surprise to find them brought inside one weekend as part of an "art lesson" devised and directed by an 8-year-old dying to become just like her favourite teacher at school.
"Now what we're going to do today," she intoned in a melodic, sing-song kind-of-way "is wash the stones under the tap, and then you get the paints out and then ...". I'm sure you're getting the drift by now. To my great shame I rolled my eyes (when she wasn't looking, of course) and stifled a giggle. Craft snob that it appears I am, I found the idea of painted stones simply undo-able. But for her sake (and clearly feeling a little guilty by this point) I sucked it up and got "on task" with the stones.
To my great surprise, I quickly became enthused by my stone and actually enjoyed my art lesson so much that now I'm trying to sell you the idea. So, break out your paints and a few art books (think Miro, Matisse, Mondrian) and make yourself a bespoke paper weight, bookend or doorstop.
Step 1 - Grovel around in the garden for said rocks and pebbles. Such is the insidious nature of their dispersion that if you don't personally have any you can bet your neighbour or friend does. Wash victims under the tap to get rid of any dirt and debris.
Step 2 - Gather a few art books to give you some ideas. There are no hard-and-fast rules here but think about scale and also take into account the size of your brushes. I started by painting a block of colour as the background and then layering detail over the top. You don't have to torture yourself with something complicated and difficult, often a simple repetitive design will be effective, such as dots or alternating stripes.
Step 3 - Once you're satisfied with your final effort let the paint dry completely before applying a few layers of varnish with a dry brush. Let the varnish dry between layers.
• 1 Smooth pebbles or rocks
• 1 Acrylic paints, range of brushes
• 1 Varnish
• 1 Reference books
- HERALD ON SUNDAY